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Singing for a Spirit

Filled with true stories, legends, and descriptions of traditional Dakota Sioux life, this book is a unique record of a people whose existence was engulfed and forever changed by the westward expansion of the United States. It is also the story of the Deloria family. Vine Deloria's grandfather, Chief Tipi Sapa (Philip Joseph Deloria), provided the detailed portrait of the Yankton band of the Dakota Nation that is the centerpiece of this book. In 1917 this great 19th-century leader told the story of the Yankton people to an informant, drawing both on his own experiences and on the accounts passed down by other elders of the Yankton band. In addition to describing spiritual beliefs, rituals, and traditions of all kinds, he recounted the stories and songs that bound the community together.

Vine Deloria has expanded the story of the Dakota people with material handed down in his family. In his introductory chapters, Deloria revisits ancestral territory, telling the life stories of his grandfather and his greatgrandfather Saswe (Francois des Laurier), a medicine man whose vision experience would have profound effects on his descendants. Both men played prominent roles in the religious life of the Yankton and Standing Rock Sioux. The Deloria family stories help us understand the revolutionary changes the Sioux were experiencing during this period, and they offer a poignant contrast to Tipi Sapa's descriptions of a distinctive way of life that was already lost to the on rush of history.

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About the Author

Vine Deloria Jr is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and has several degrees. Deloria taught at a number of universities before accepting a position as Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Arizona in 1978, where he helped create a master's program in American Indian Studies. Since 1990 he has held appointments in a number of disciplines at the University of Colorado.

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